Read The Sense of Beauty by George Santayana Online


It is remarkably appropriate that this work on aesthetics should have been written by George Santayana, who is probably the most brilliant philosophic writer and the philosopher with the strongest sense of beauty since Plato. It is not a dry metaphysical treatise, as works on aesthetics so often are, but is itself a fascinating document: as much a revelation of the beautyIt is remarkably appropriate that this work on aesthetics should have been written by George Santayana, who is probably the most brilliant philosophic writer and the philosopher with the strongest sense of beauty since Plato. It is not a dry metaphysical treatise, as works on aesthetics so often are, but is itself a fascinating document: as much a revelation of the beauty of language as of the concept of beauty.This unabridged reproduction of the 1896 edition of lectures delivered at Harvard College is a study of "why, when, and how beauty appears, what conditions an object must fulfill to be beautiful, what elements of our nature make us sensible of beauty, and what the relation is between the constitution of the object and the excitement of our susceptibility."Santayana first analyzes the nature of beauty, finding it irrational, "pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing." He then proceeds to the materials of beauty, showing what all human functions can contribute: love, social instincts, senses, etc. Beauty of form is then analyzed, and finally the author discusses the expression of beauty. Literature, religion, values, evil, wit, humor, and the possibility of finite perfection are all examined. Presentation throughout the work is concrete and easy to follow, with examples drawn from art, history, anthropology, psychology, and similar areas....

Title : The Sense of Beauty
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ISBN : 9780486202389
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 192 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Sense of Beauty Reviews

  • BlackOxford
    2019-02-06 09:59

    Harvard’s Nutty ProfessorThere is much to agree with in George Santayana’s The Sense of Beauty. But almost all of that is trivial. It is with substantive issues that disagreement reigns. His sense of beauty is just that, a sense, which is personal, innate, and inexpressible in language. Terry Eagleton would undoubtedly classify Santayana as the epitome of the 19th century bourgeoise aesthete, whose primary concern is the defence of middle-class values against the increasingly powerful attacks of socialism.Santayana begins innocuously enough. ‘The philosophy of beauty” he says, “is a theory of values.” Values for him are perceptual judgments which are “instinctive and immediate.” He then arrives at an interim conclusion which begins to tip his ideological hand: “... we may therefore say that aesthetics is concerned with the perception of values.” Watch the man’s hands as they never leave the sleeves of his academic gown. He is very precise in his use of the word perception.He then implies that perception depends primarily on two things - first some interest in the matter or object at hand which turns simple perception into an appreciation; and second, preference, by which he means an emotion which in his view is not only irrational in its source but also not subject to any rational explication or review. Preference for him is, as it is for the classical liberal economists, the ultimate datum of the aesthetic. Preference for Santayana is not just private, it is secret. Its immediate instinctiveness may be felt but not controlled: “Values spring from the immediate and inexplicable reaction of vital impulse, and from the irrational part of our nature. The rational part is by its essence relative; it leads us from data to conclusions, or from parts to wholes; it never furnishes the data with which it works.” There is no way, Santayana implies, for such fundamental data to reach the level of conscious choice. According to Santayana, they cannot even reach the level of language: “Verbal judgments are often useful instruments of thought, but it is not by them that worth can ultimately be determined.” What he means by this breath-taking assertion is not entirely clear. Is it that language is inadequate to convey feelings fully? Is it that we lie to others, possibly even to ourselves, about what we find important? Or is it that we just can’t attend to what we desire other than just desiring it?All the above would be questionable assertions. But Santayana apparently favours the last, which is the most absurd of the lot. For him, aesthetic judgment is not even accessible to the intellect. “Aesthetic and moral judgments are accordingly to be classed together in contrast to judgments intellectual; they are both judgments of value, while intellectual judgments are judgments of fact. If the latter have any value, it is only derivative, and ourwhole intellectual life has its only justification in its connexion with our pleasures and pains.” Thus, like conscience, aesthetics exists in a sovereign sphere that society in general has no call messing about with.Santayana helpfully summarises his position, making the ideological programme very clear: “Beauty, as we have seen, is a value; it cannot be conceived as an independent existence which affects our senses and which we consequently perceive. It exists in perception, and cannot exist otherwise. A beauty not perceived is a pleasure not felt, and a contradiction.” A less cumbersome expression of the same point would be simply ‘I know what I like only when I see it.’ In other words, aesthetics is off limits to not just social research but also to all considerations of social policy or even to friendly discussion. It is a forbidden topic in sensible middle-class company. The only thing that prevents one from calling this conclusion utterly ridiculous is that it was made by an eminent professor of Harvard College. Even the best minds can be silly on occasion. I feel compelled to agree with Santayana’s contemporary at Harvard, Josiah Royce: “George Santayana easily surpasses all philosophers in the charm with which he says things which are patently false.”

  • Marwan Hamed
    2019-02-01 08:03

    gamel gedan w mot3eb

  • نهى أبوعسل
    2019-01-26 10:45

    يصعب عن اعطي انطباع واحد عما اثاره في نفسي ذلك الكتاب فالكاتب هنا جازف كما يجازف كل الفلاسفة بمحاولة ايجاد شرح يفسر موضوع نفسي و وجداني بحت مثل الاحساس بالجمال و او كما اعطى اسما لمؤلفه ( تخطيط النظرية في علم الجمال ) .لكن للأسف في هذا الكتاب رغم مجهود الكاتب الواضح و المميز و محاولاته المضنية ... الا ان الكتاب لم يوفي الاحساس بالجمال حقه من الشرح ... فكل موضوع من الموضوعات التي اثارها الكاتب تحتاج الي مجلد لشرحها و فهمها . فقد قسم الكاتب موضوعه الى ثلاث اقسام كبرى .. مادة الجمال ... و الشكل ... و التعبير .و قد اعجبني الجزء الاول و الثالث الخاص بمادة الجمال و التعبير عنه . اما الجزء الثاني الخاص بالشكل ... فقد استفاض الكاتب في مواضيع عديدة ... تفقد القارئ تركيزه و اهتمامه بموضوع الكتاب ... و خاصة ان هذا الجزء كان اكثر الاجزاء بعدا عما اتفق عليه الكاتب ان الاحساس بالجمال في اصله انفعال داخلي تجاه الاشياء يعتقد فيه الرائي انه صفة ذلك الشئ و كأن ذلك الانفعال خارجي عنه ... و برهن على ذلك بأن الافراد و المجتمعات يختلفون في احساسهم بجمال الاشياء و طريقة احساسهم بها . الكتاب اثار الكثير من التساؤلات و المواضيع ما يصعب تجميعه في كلامي ... الا انيي اعبرت ذلك الكتاب كرحلة بحرية مع المؤلف ... قد تثيرك و تبهرك بعض المواقف ... و قد تشعر احيانا بالملل من تكرار الموقف ... و قد تشعر بالنشوة من مغامرة جديدة و فكرة انبتها الكاتب بداخل ... و هي لم تكن لتجد طريقها لعقلك الا بكلامه . ..و نكتفي بهذا القدر و السلام عليكم

  • عبداللطيف بن يوسف
    2019-01-31 11:45

    كتاب بديع وكونه خرج من المركز القومي للترجمة فذلك كفيل بقول أن اللغة كانت سليمة وجميلة، ولعلني أقول أن كل من يشتغل في المجالات الفنية والجمالية سيعتبر هذا الكتاب مرجع يعود إليه، ربما كان غير ممتع جداً كأي كتاب فلسفي في العالم مما اضطرني لأخذ بعض الاستراحات، ولكنه يبقى فاتناً وفي التفاتات نفسية رائعة للإجابة عن السؤال الأبدي ( ما هو الجميل وماهو القبيح) و(لماذا أصبح الجميل جميلاً) يأخذك من الشكل إلى الأسلوب بأمثلة تقرب المعنى وتسهّل الفهم. أحببته وأتمنى أن أقرأ المزيد من الكتب في هذا المجال

  • Jordi de Paco
    2019-02-09 09:08

    This book is incredibly boring, full of innecesarily complex construction of sentences, which makes it hard to swallow. I've had a harsh time reading it. However, I kept reading it, because even if not immediately, I noticed myself more perceptive towards beauty. Like if even I was having a bad time reading it, its principles altered my subconscious in a way that allowed me to understand art and beauty at many other levels that what I used to. Now I see myself taking more conscious decisions when designing than before putting this much effort on studying Santayana's theories on beauty.On the other hand...I do not recommend this book.

  • Mohja Alhosh
    2019-02-17 06:52

    هذا الكتاب و حسب رأي المتواضع انه مهم لكل إنسان فيه يفرق الفيلسوف الامريكي جورج سانتيانا ، و هو واحد من اجود و اعمق من تفلسف في علم الجمال في القرن الفائت و يركز فيه بين التفرقه بالإحساس بالجمال من حيث هو جمال و بين الإحساس باللذة الجسمانية و اللذة الجمالية تكسب المرء الشعور او وهم التحرر من جسده، لانها ليست لذة مركزة في عضوء معين، تخيّل هذا الأمر و انت منفعل بشئ جميل سواء جمال طبيعي كمنظر او مكان أو صناعي من صنع الإنسان كلوحة، قطعة موسيقية أو مشهد من فيلم أو بيت شعر حينها تشعر بأنها لذة إدراكية غير منوطة بجسدك بعكس الجسمانية ' جميل و يجعلك تحسين بالجمال من حولك ، لأصحاب الذوق الرفيع.

  • Moneim
    2019-02-13 10:00

    سهل ممتنع ..

  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    2019-02-04 08:41

    I am not sure if I was satisfied with the way that Santayana approached this topic. I understand that some of these issues come with his perspective as a philosopher. Frankly, spending the beginning of the book saying a hundred ways that people define beauty and then using the last half to define what it is he has determined beauty to be, seems a bit backward. Perhaps I am a bit too much of a conventionalist but I would have preferred if he had spend the earlier portion of his work being more clear about what he thought the humans ability to connect to beauty and define such actually is. He spent one lousy chapter on symmetry which I personally think is the strongest case for an overarching consensus on beauty that is available. Genetically humans are programed to find symmetry beautiful but only to a certain point. Perhaps he could have brought in topics such as the golden ratio? This seems like a more likely place to start. Instead he defines beauty through the eyes of truth, morality and a whole bunch of other nonsensical notions. I just don't know if I entirely agree with his approach, or his conclusions. Beauty is a difficult thing to describe, since for the most part it is highly subjective. Aesthetics perhaps a bit easier, but still. I think the author covered some good bullet points, I just was not sure if this work was fleshed out enough to be cohesive in my opinion. Perhaps he saves it by calling it an outline? Or is that just a cop out?

  • David
    2019-01-29 09:49

    Eloquent and intense, Santayana’s “The Sense of Beauty” outlines the parameters and structure of aesthetic thought. After preliminarily defining beauty as “value positive, intrinsic, and objectified . . . pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing,” Santayana presents sections on matter, form, and expression. Idealization and perfection play a strong role in his aesthetics, and he prizes clarity and stability of form and purity of expression in art; he pits himself against the expressive excesses of Romanticism–something which I think makes his praise of Walt Whitman, a poet of near formless exuberance, odd. While there are a few forgettable sections on character and plot whose place seems mainly to reflect Santayana’s nascent desires to write a novel, “The Sense of Beauty” never remains uninsightful for long, and never is the prose less than stellar.

  • David Corbet
    2019-02-20 13:56

    This is an excellent book on aesthetics. Not only is it a classic but it is philosophically sound. I do believe this is a must read for every artist, and anyone interested in the idea of beauty and the philosophy of aesthetics.

  • Sophia
    2019-02-23 13:55

    Read bits for my thesis research

  • Devyn Kennedy
    2019-02-12 13:52

    This is a relatively good outline of Aesthetic theory. Furthermore, it is enlightening. The bit about music and appreciating for music making it more of a "mathematical beauty of perceived form" was particularly interesting. I, in fact, thought that this whole outline was really informative and managed to, at the very least, show that ones taste in things is always justified, even if it is different.However, I have a huge problem with this book, being that it is dry. It starts out as defining beauty, which is all well and good and continues to be a rather interesting piece until about the half-way point when we get to talk about the idea of form.To me, this part was rather redundant as it goes over the same point of symmetry and how the perception of form makes something beautiful, as well as its arrangement. That's fine, but does it really need to be more than half the book? I think not.That being said, if you are curious about beauty and wish to try and grasp and define it in a less poetic way, well, this is the best place to come. If you would to feel better about what you find beautiful, this book is for you. And, of course, if you want a better appreciation of what the idea of beauty can be and what it represents in poetry, nature, and life this is a step in the right direction.

  • Charlie N
    2019-01-28 13:11

    It's interesting to read this work of Santayana's from the perspective of his later ontological distinctions in Scepticism and Animal Faith, and Realms of Being. In his later terminology, beauty is an essence, a form, that arises when a conscious perspective contemplates a work of art, or a state of affairs. Not all works of art assume this form for all observers. It is the confluence of a suitable form of matter and a suitable psyche (Santayana's later term for the physical organization that underlies consciousness) that leads to beauty exemplified and intuited. This book has many interested bits and pieces, and is characteristically gracefully written. It's also pretty short.

  • Stephanie
    2019-02-04 06:47

    Although by and large I enjoyed this work, the linguist in me must reject the application of an aesthetic principle to different languages. Once again, Euro-centrism would put Latin and Greek at the pinnacle of linguistic beauty. Find me a person with equal familiarity with the 6000+ languages of the world, and I might be willing to allow some sort of aesthetic comparison of linguistic systems, but until then--yeah, not so much.Also, it started to lose me near the end, particularly on expression.

  • Menashe Israel
    2019-02-13 10:53

    The kernel of this book is Santayana's thoughts on Expression, and its intertwined-ness with the varying aesthetic education of the perceiver. Everything else is cushion.

  • إبراهيم عادل
    2019-02-22 08:54

    نبقى نكمله بعدين :)

  • Muzzy
    2019-02-11 13:47

    Santayana begins with the assumption that truth and beauty are the same thing. That's where he lost me.

  • Aidan Sawyer
    2019-02-13 10:11

    Beautifully written. Makes some really interesting points on aesthetic theory. Directed poetry. Guy's amazing.

  • محمد )
    2019-02-05 11:44

    كتاب من العيار الثقيل جدا ، و يحتاج لتمهل شديد جدا .. لأصحاب الأنفس الطويلة تجاه الفلسفة